RAGBlog contains text and audio commentary surrounding my participation in RAGBRAI XXXIII, July 24-30, 2005. RAGBRAI, which stands for the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, draws about 10,000 bicyclists each year for the weeklong ride. Go back to the July 2005 quotes for daily commentary on the ride.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

DAY 2: Blowin' Out of Sheldon

Merely having RAGBRAI pass through their streets is a huge event for small towns like Melvin, which make elaborate preparations.

The storm was more or less gone as we started out from Sheldon, but the streets were still wet. I didn't stop as much on the ride to Estherville because the milage was longer and I got on the road almost an hour later than hoped.

I didn't see much destruction from the storm as I rode out of town, but George Longoria of Team Besame Mucho apparently did. Here is a link to some photos that show how destructive the Sheldon storm really was.

Some of the roadside people who sell food and drink here follow a policy they call "free will." Pay what you think is right or not at all.

RAGBRAI is an enormous event for the little pass-through towns. Riders can outnumber townfolk 10-to-1. A good example was Melvin, which was so busy this morning that you couldn't ride down the town's main street.

After Melvin, a pretty good headwind came up and I got into a paceline with a group of riders from a bike club in Pella, Iowa. We kept up a good speed into the wind all the way to Milford, where I stopped for lunch.

Milford is home to the University of Okoboji, which I thought was a joke, then I thought was for real, and finally realized it was a joke after all. They do have a realistic-looking university seal. And they offer MBA degrees (Masters in Bicycling Activities).

I prefer riding in the afternoon, although the combination of heat and humidity isn't a whole lot of fun. In the morning everyone is on the road at the same time and the heavy bicycle traffic is a little unnerving. One rider makes a mistake and a lot of people can go down. By afternoon, it is less crowded. Some people don't ride the day's full route.

I saw a fair number of bikes upturned on their handlebars, which is the RAGBRAI sign of surrender--a plea to the SAG wagon to pick the rider and bike up.

Came in through a nice state park into Estherville. Didn't get to see much of the town because there was a tornado warning. I paid a few extra dollars to stay inside on the gym floor at Iowa Lakes Community College. Turns out the big storm missed us this time and the people outside only had to deal with a little rain.
When I got to Estherville, the forecast was for another big storm to blow in. Along with many others, I opted to spend the night indoors at Iowa Lakes Community College. I slept on the gym floor. Thankfully, we were not in the storm's path this time and only got a little rain.

87.49 miles

A Confession/Realization: Before this trip, I had never pitched a tent and had to rent one for this trip. In Le Mars, I was so incompetent at putting up the tent that two guys in my group came over and more or less put it up for me. In Sheldon, I pitched the tent myself for the first time. I was thinking about that as the storm was hitting full blast.


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